It must be difficult to adjust from headlining prestigious UK festivals like Reading and Glasto to playing small venues to the chattering and bottle-clinking masses, but that is the place that Ride's Mark Gardener has found himself for the better part of the last five years. Since surfacing from a self imposed exile in Southern France, Gardener has been playing scattered gigs with fellow Brits Goldrush, mainly drummer-less acoustic performances, and readying a solo album finally to see release on US indie United for Opportunity on October 11th. The problem is that Ride's sound and Mark's voice has never really seemed suited for the stripped down acoustic format, and although tracks like "Vapour Trail" and "In a Different Place" illicit pangs of giddy nostalgia, they scream to sound HUGE with ex-Ride compadre Andy Bell stage left. Gardener's solo songs, while nicely sung and played, came across slightly anodyne. A mention of another NYC gig in December with a full band bodes well for a vast improvement sonically.
Some bands just mean it. Far removed of the freshly minted buzz band tag, B.R.M.C., now three albums in, seem like a band that do what they want regardless of what the current mode of cool may be, and opening with four new tracks from current LP Howl seemed like an open challenge to me. While the new roots '60s-based sound may seem out of the blue to some, live these tracks fit in nicely with their more familiar Jesus & Mary Chain wall of fuzz stylings. It's always nice to see a band that look and act like a band, and BMRC definitely have that down. There is something that says "not to be fucked with" about these dudes and you get the impression that they are there largely for themselves. Plowing through most of the new album, plus selections from the previous two, this gig turned towards the epic with the thundering drone of "Whatever Happened To My Rock N Roll" and "Six Barrel Shotgun". On the more upbeat tracks of this type these guys channel a twisted mix of Motorhead, Mary Chain, and later Primal Scream and it sounds ENORMOUS. The obligatory encore became basically a second set as they blasted through at least seven more tracks, including a devastating run through of "Heart and Soul", culminating in the gorgeous accordion led ending section from Howl's "The Line". A nearly two hour Monday night gig can become an endurance test, but the rewards were huge at this jam. Every conversation stumbled into as the the crowd filed out was laced with "amazings" and "wows" and bugged out eyes and smiles... Gigs of this intensity are rare and this is one to take home and rap about the next day at the copier or Guiness tap or whatever stations of communique you may have at your house of employ.
photos by: Daniel Arnold